Guantanamo's Children: The Wikileaked Testimonies
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas i
May 10, 2013
On April 24, 2011, the transparency organization Wikileaks began to release Detainee Assessment Briefs and other classified documents for all 779 Guantلnamo prisoners.
This revealed that military authorities have acknowledged that Mr. Abdul Samad, Mr. Ibrahim Umar al Umar, Mr. Khalil Rahman Hafez, and Mr. Abdullah R. Razzaq were all imprisoned at Guantلnamo as children.
As a consequence of the wikileaked releases, military documents in the public domain now acknowledge that fifteen children were imprisoned, at some time or another, at Guantلnamo (see table below). This is three more than the twelve the State Department acknowledged to the public after our earlier report on the subject, and seven more than the eight the State Department reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In short, military documents recently wikileaked indicate that the number of children that have been imprisoned at Guantanamo is one-and-a-quarter times what the State Department has admitted to the public and almost twice as many as it reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Fourteen of the individuals mentioned in this table have now been released—one of them being the first child in History to have been convicted of war crimes (Omar Ahmed Khadr). The fifteenth (Yasser Talal al Zahrani) allegedly killed himself in his Guantلnamo cell at age 21. Information about them and many other prisoners can be found elsewhere in this website; pictures of some of them can be found below.
The Cases of Shams Ullah, Mohammed Ismail, Abdul Quddus, Muhammed al Qarani
For the most part, the wikileaked information is consistent with what previously released documents have revealed. In some cases, however, the material is less detailed than the material we had before (the new documents do not have, for example, any dates for Mr. Shams Ullah). But in other cases, the new material provides more detail. Newly released documents indicate, for example, that Mr. Mohammed Ismail was born in 1988 and not just after 07 FEB 87 as we previously estimated. These documents moreover indicate that he was transferred to Guantلnamo on 07 FEB 02—or exactly one year earlier than previously disclosed [NOTE 1]. This would make him the youngest child to have been imprisoned at Guantلnamo according to military and diplomatic sources now in the public domain. In all of these cases, we worked from the most informative of two, mostly consistent, documents.
And then there is the case of Mr. Abdul Quddus. According to the wikileaked material, he is two years older than previously thought. And he was transferred to Guantلnamo a full year later than previously released documents indicated [NOTE 2]. It is striking to think that Mr. Quddus would have been transferred into Guantلnamo as a child even if the new information proved true. In this case we worked from the wikileaked material, as it was the most recent of the two documents.
Other differences with the known record might pertain to the fact the wikileaked documents mention the dates of transfer rather than the dates of in-processing—which is what the earlier documents used. But this does not affect the status of the prisoners as minors. Except for one case (see section below).
Finally, there is the case of Mr. Muhammed Hamid al Qarani, who wikileaked documents claim was born in 1981. This would be a full five years earlier than previously released documents indicated. It would also be contrary to the information in his birth certificate (mentioned at a Congressional Hearing in 2008) and to the statements made by the judge presiding over his 2009 habeas proceedings, who referred to Mr. al Qarani as "a Saudi minor" in 2001. Without passing judgement on the veracity of the wikileaked information, we decided to include in the table above the earlier material on Mr. al Qarani, as the only point of this report is that military documents admit that more minors were imprisoned in Guantلnamo than have been publicly acknowledged.
Could there be more?
Many of the birthdates in the wikileaked documents are incomplete, giving only years of birth while remaining silent about the days or the months. Thus, Messrs. Faris Muslim al Ansari (ISN 253), Peta Muhammed (ISN 908), Qari Esmhatulla (ISN 591), and Sajin Urayman (ISN 545) were supposedly born some time in 1984, entering Guantلnamo in 2002. Whether they entered it as boys or as men depends on the actual days and months of their respective births. And a similar situation holds for Mr. Mahbub Rahman (ISN 1052) (see table below). For reasons to be given presently, Mr. Mohammed Jawad (ISN 900) should be added to this table of individuals who may have entered Guantلnamo as children (all of these individuals have now been released from Guantلnamo).
The wikileaked documents assert Mr. Mohammed Jawad (ISN 900) was born 01 JAN 85. This would make him a child when he was seized and in-processed by American forces on 17 DEC 02 but an adult when transferred to Guantلnamo on 6 FEB 03 [NOTE 3]. But this wikileaked birthdate has been called into question. First, Mr. Jawad's military counsel has declared (personal communication) that due to the lack of information about Jawad's precise birthday, the military simply assigned him a birthdate that would make him an adult, and that the accuracy of this date was hotly disputed both in military commission proceedings and in habeas proceedings in federal court. Second, Col. Darrel Vandeveld, once the chief prosecutor in the case against Mr. Jawad, stated in 2009 that
Third, in its response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the State Department described Mr. Jawad as being "approximately 23" on May 19, 2008. But this would make him "approximately 17" when he was transferred to Guantلnamo. Consequently, we would be remiss if we did not include him among the set of individuals who could have been transferred to Guantلnamo as minors. We have included his picture below. Mr. Jawad's military counsel has confirmed to us that it was taken within 24 hours of being seized by American forces. Testimonies of the abuse these individuals endured at Guantلnamo, particularly testimony for Mr. Jawad, can be found elsewhere in this website by entering their names on the search facility at the top of any page.
The Testimonies from Abroad
All of the testimonies we have considered thus far are domestic. If we were to take into account the testimonies of former prisoners, the Red Cross, and other international sources, then, the estimates of the number of children at Guantلnamo raise significantly. Thus, according to a by Andy Worthington, the number of individuals entering Guantلnamo as boys is 22. And, according to the British charity (personal communication), this number would exceed 46. International testimonies on Guantلnamo's children will be analyzed in a subsequent report.
1. The flight logs recorded in The Journey of Death are consistent with both transfer dates, as they mention flights into Guantلnamo for both days (see pp. 14 and 26). The Journey of Death is a report on "extraordinary rendition" prepared by the British charity Reprieve.
2. See previous note.
3. Just like Mr. Haji Mohammed Ayub (ISN 279). Born on 15 APR 84, he was seized by American forces some time in 2001 and transferred into Guantلnamo on 10 JUN 02. He was therefore captured as a boy, but entered Guantلnamo as a man.
First released: January 10, 2008
Last Revised: March 22, 2013